Volunteering at Raby Castle can be a rewarding and fascinating hobby and our volunteers play an important role in helping us build a sustainable future for this important historic site.Everyone on the Estate values the important contribution of time and enthusiasm that our volunteers give so generously and we are always pleased to hear about their own positive experiences of being part of the Estate team. We spoke to one of our volunteers Val about why she loves being part of the visitor experience at Raby Castle and how much she’s discovered about its rich history.
Val Fawcett has lived on the doorstep of Raby Castle, in Staindrop village, for many years and has always been fascinated by its history. When she spotted a leaflet in the local shop asking for volunteer stewards she knew it would be the perfect hobby for her.
“Raby is a big part of everyone’s lives around here and I have been a regular visitor over the years but there was so much about its past that I didn’t know, particularly about the family history,” says Val.
Val has a real interest in history and loves visiting cathedrals, churches and historic houses so she was thrilled to have the opportunity to go behind the scenes at Raby and learn all about the castle, its people and its past.
One of the things she remembers most about joining as a volunteer is the warmth of the team and the way she was made to feel welcome at Raby from the very first day.
“Everyone was so friendly and made me feel at ease straightaway,” she says. “The staff and other volunteers are all such lovely people and I really enjoyed getting to know them during training.”
The training itself has given Val a fascinating insight into life at the castle over the centuries.
“We were taken through the castle several times during our training, covering different subjects in detail. We learnt about the furniture, the paintings, the porcelain and much more. I have discovered so much and I am still learning every day. I love sharing some of the facts and stories with visitors and it’s so rewarding to be able to give them a glimpse of the castle’s past and bring its history to life.”
Our volunteer room stewards play an important role in creating an engaging and welcoming visitor experience and Val says she enjoys helping to answer people’s questions. She says she particularly likes the fact that the volunteers move from room to room regularly, which means she can keep refreshing her knowledge of each part of the castle.
“I love all the rooms, there’s something unique and intriguing about all of them, but my absolute favourite is the kitchen. When you stand there and think that it was in continuous daily use for 600 years it’s quite remarkable. It must have been red hot in that room when all four fireplaces were burning.”
Val says she would recommend volunteering at Raby to anyone who is interested in history and being part of a team.
“It’s such a lovely place to be and the more I’m here, the more I learn. I feel involved and part of things, I enjoy chatting to people throughout the day and when I go home I’m full of it.
“If anyone is thinking about volunteering at Raby Castle I recommend they do it – if not, they’ll miss out on a wonderful experience.”